Sports briefs: Feb. 25

February 25, 2014 

UK Sports

Bat Cats' Reed earns national, SEC player of the week awards

Kentucky baseball junior A.J. Reed was named a Louisville Slugger national player of the week and the Southeastern Conference's player of the week. Reed's historic week for the Cats included five home runs and 11 RBI in a three-game span. He also pitched seven innings and gave up one run in Friday's win.

Reed became the first UK player to hit two homers in an inning, including a grand slam, since Jason Kipnis (now with the Cleveland Indians) in 2007.

"All I'm trying to do is just go up there and put a good swing on a strike," Reed said Monday afternoon, according to a report on the UK website. "Luckily for us and for myself, I did that a couple times."

On the year, Reed has hit .433 (13-for-30) with 10 runs, three doubles, six homers and 17 RBI in seven games, with eight of his RBI coming as two-out hits. On the mound, he has a 2-0 record — including a season-opening win over No. 1 Virginia — with a 1.50 ERA in 12 innings. Reed leds the SEC in slugging (1.133), hits (13), RBI (17), home runs (six) and total bases (34).

"I think most of the time when you find guys that are really seeing it well, it's usually a little bit later in the year," UK Coach Gary Henderson said. "Typically not something you see the first three, four weekends. But he had a really good weekend, saw it well, a lot of good swings and not just on the home runs."

■ Kentucky's baseball team (5-2) opens its home schedule at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Cliff Hagan Stadium against Wright State.

UK will send sophomore left-hander Dylan Dwyer to the mound for his second start of the season. He worked three innings on Monday at USC Upstate, including striking out the side in the first two innings. Dwyer then ran into trouble with four runs in the third inning.

Gilliland to play for U.S. in Six Nations event

Kentucky women's soccer star Arin Gilliland was selected to play on the United States Women's National Team U23 squad that will compete in the Six Nations Tournament in La Manga, Spain. The former West Jessamine standout is one of six defenders on the 20-woman roster. The Americans will face Japan, Sweden and Norway during the tournament, which lasts from Feb. 24 to March 6.

Horse racing

Cairo Prince, Top Billing early individual favorites in third Derby Future Wager pool

The third of four pools of Churchill Downs' Kentucky Derby Future Wager opens Thursday with Cairo Prince and Top Billing sharing the role of favored individual horses. Betting will take place through early Saturday evening.

Churchill Downs handicapper Mike Battaglia set morning line odds with "All Others" as the 6-1 favorite. Cairo Prince and Top Billing will both open at 8-1 odds.

Samraat tops field for Saturday's Gotham

Undefeated Samraat will seek his fifth straight victory on Saturday at Aqueduct in New York when he heads a field of 11 for the Grade III, $500,000 Gotham, a major Kentucky Derby prep race. The winner of the 11⁄16-mile race will earn 50 points in the Derby points system.

Samraat, a son of Noble Causeway, enters the Gotham off two consecutive stakes wins on Aqueduct's inner track: a 16¾-length romp in the Damon Runyon against New York-breds on Dec. 18 and a hard-fought one-length score over Uncle Sigh in the Grade III Withers on Feb. 1.

Coupled with Noble Cornerstone in the wagering, Samraat was listed at 5-2 on the morning line. Samraat will face Uncle Sigh, a 3-1 second choice, again.

College basketball

Florida takes over top spot in AP poll

The Florida Gators are taking their turn as the newest No. 1 in what Coach Billy Donovan calls a revolving door atop the AP college basketball poll. It's the Gators' first time on top of the rankings since they repeated as national champions in 2007.

Florida (25-2) moved up one place Monday, replacing Syracuse (25-2), which lost twice last week and dropped to fourth.

Syracuse narrowly avoids third straight loss

No. 4 Syracuse blew most of a 12-point lead in the last 8 minutes and used one final defensive stop to squeeze past host Maryland 57-55 on Monday night and end a two-game losing streak. It was another close call for the Orange (26-2), whose previous four games were decided by a total of 12 points. Syracuse led 49-37 with 7:54 left but allowed Maryland to close to 56-55 with 47 seconds remaining.

NBA

Wizards lose Nene for six weeks

Washington forward Nene will be sidelined for approximately six weeks with a sprained MCL in his left knee, costing the team its most reliable players while it makes a push for its first playoff berth since 2008. The Wizards have won three straight to get to 28-28, making them fifth in the weak Eastern Conference.

Jamal Crawford hit seven threes on his way to 24 points, and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the host New Orleans Pelicans 123-110. Anthony Davis had 26 points and 11 rebounds.

O.J. Mayo made seven three-pointers and scored 25 points, Brandon Knight scored 15, and the Milwaukee Bucks rolled to a 130-110 victory over the host Philadelphia 76ers.

The last word

Colt Lyerla came to the NFL scouting combine with more to prove than just about anyone else. Not on the field, off of it. Two months after the former Oregon tight end pleaded guilty to cocaine possession, he was answering questions in Indianapolis about why his life went astray and trying to convince league scouts that his troubled days are over:

"I'd say that I've put myself in a position where my back's against the wall, to a point that if I don't do everything perfect and the right way, that I won't be able to play football, let alone be successful in any shape or form."

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